The construction of a new Teesside energy plant has been suspended – affecting 700 workers.
Air Products has paused work on its second energy-from-waste project (TV2) at Billingham.
The suspension comes after the development of the company’s first energy plant TV1 at the same site, which is the largest of its kind in the UK.
Air Products says it can’t confirm how long the delay will last, while union bosses have described the move as devastating.
It is understood that the company may have found it challenging and time-consuming to have to do similar work on two plants, so took the decision to stop TV2 while work on TV1 was perfected.
“After careful consideration we have made a decision to temporarily suspend construction of our second energy-from-waste project (TV2) in Tees Valley,” said the company.
“This decision does not reflect on the performance of our 700 highly-professional contractor colleagues currently working on the TV2 project, who will sadly be impacted by the suspension in work.
“The duration of the suspension is yet to be determined but we remain committed to completing both facilities as soon as possible. We will work with our contactors to wind down TV2 construction activity in a controlled way.
“The learnings we are making here will be applicable to our second plant. By deferring construction we will be able to ensure any modifications are applied to TV2 in a cost-effective way when activity is resumed.
“Work on our first renewable energy project will not be interrupted. Our team remains focused on safe construction of this plant, as we continue progression through to its operation.
“Although not part of our original plan, in the long-term, this decision will aid the overall operational success and future of both our renewable energy facilities at Teesside.”
Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the GMB union, said: “This is devastating news for these construction workers just seven weeks before Christmas.
“GMB will seek talks with Air Products to find out what has gone so badly wrong on this project where there has been no industrial relations trouble.”
The news comes shortly after the closure of the SSI steel plant at Redcar, resulting in the loss of 1,700 jobs.